Thanksgiving dinner 2013

The 2013 Thanksgiving was a total success! Dan and I brined and cooked our first turkey, which turned out fantastic! It was two days of cooking that paid off in deliciousness!!

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We used The Pioneer Woman brine….we’ve never brined a turkey, but always wanted to. It was so easy and made the turkey so moist! If the word brine scares you…think marinade.  It wasn’t salty at all.

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Here’s our little man right before going in the oven. We stuffed it with sage, rosemary, an apple and an onion which made delicious gravy!

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AND HERE HE IS! Out of the oven…..cooked to perfection using The Pioneer Woman directions!! It was delicious.  Our full spread included:

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Sweet potato casserole (Pioneer Woman)
  • Roasted brussel sprouts
  • Mashed potatoes (done in the crockpot, so easy!)
  • Gravy (from the turkey drippings)
  • Cornbread stuffing
  • Pretzel salad
  • Rolls

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I made two pumpkin pies by roasting a pumpkin and making my own puree. That was so delicious.  Here are the recipes.

I went very simple with the table decorations this year.  I thought it turned out pretty…

photo 2All in all, a very successful day.  We ate about lunchtime which gave us the evening to hang out, watch Dr. Who, and eat leftovers.  So much to be thankful for this year.  My heart overflows with how blessed I am.  I have a husband who I absolutely adore, a beautiful little girl and another healthy baby girl on the way.  Both my husband and I have great jobs that we enjoy and family that we love.  Every day I ask myself what have I done to get all this.

Thankful to the One who makes all things good. Happy Thanksgiving!



Two bowls of soup and some pasta

To round out a November, here’s three more successful meals that we tried this month.

1. Crockpot Tomato, basil and parmesan soup

I made this a little differently than the recipe. I let everything sit in the crockpot all day and cook just like it says. When it got to the end stage of putting everything together, I put the crockpot stuff into the blender and pureed it all (be careful when pureeing hot ingredients! I did half a time.) I made the roux and added the soup.  I personally did not like the parmesan cheese in at this stage. It left the soup with a grainy texture and not smooth.  If you want to parmesan, I would put it in with the soup into the blender and let it get pureed.  That will help the texture.

This soup was very yummy and we had it with grilled cheese made on sourdough! YUMMMMMMM!

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2. Crockpot zuppa toscana

This was absolutely perfect. This is my favorite soup at Olive Garden and this recipe tastes identical. I made it just like the recipe and it turned out delicious. Serve with some rolls and a salad.


3. Creamy garlic pasta

This was great!! It tastes just like a Pasta-Roni without the powdered ingredients.  Highly recommend as a quick, easy, and delicious side dish.  We had it with steak and asparagus! Could also be made gluten free with gluten free pasta.

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To finish out November, I’m making a crockpot roast tomorrow night and then we’ll be with family for the rest of the week.  I’ve worked with my mother-in-law and we’ve planned a great Thanksgiving! I’m making the turkey and I’m so excited!!!  I’ll do a post about our big meal and my adventure in cooking my first Thanksgiving.


Yummy Recipes

The meals planned for November have been great so far.  A couple have been new for me and turned out yummy, so I wanted to share!

1. Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole

I forgot to take a picture of this one, but it is so good.  Someone brought this to us a couple years ago when Dan tore his ACL.  I remembered it and cooked it for one of my friends who just had surgery.  It makes a great freezer meal or a meal to take to someone.  Very different, but absolutely delicious. Give it a try!


  1. 1 box Uncle Ben’s original wild rice (cooked)
  2. 1 can cream of celery soup
  3. 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  4. 2 cooked chicken breasts or the equivalent…(cut up rotisserie works.)
  5. 1/2 bag of frozen green beans (cooked)
  6. 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
  7. 2 tbsp diced pimentos
  8. 1 cup fresh mushrooms
  9. 1-2 cups of cheddar cheese just depending on fast

Cook the rice, green beans, and shred/cube the chicken.  Mix everything together in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Top with cheese.  Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Enjoy!

2. Butternut, Chickpea, and Lentil Stew

This was a totally new recipe for me. I saw the picture on Pinterest and thought it sounded good.  It was absolutely delicious. Very light and has the tastes of fall. It’s what you expect from a fall, veggie soup.  It is called a stew, but it is actually has a nice broth.  I just served it with some Sister Shuberts and it was fantastic.  It would also be great over rice.  For the red lentils in the ingredients, I just used a can of red beans.  The prep is about 15 minutes to get everything into the crockpot, but worth it.



We tried a paleo chicken thighs recipe that was pretty good, but probably won’t make again.  I also made a crockpot version of Olive Garden’s pasta fagoli.  It was okay….

I’ve got a couple more new recipes this month to try, so I’ll fill you in on those.

🙂 Leslie

THE shopping trip


Well, we did it. This is what $500 in groceries, household supplies, and toiletries looks like.  This is everything we will need for our household for the whole month (toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc. etc. etc) on top of all the ingredients for 18 lunches and dinners minus a few weekly produce items and milk. Not too bad.  This averages about $125/week. Not too shabby.   We did shop at Walmart today, which I never do….and I hate to say, but you do save money at Walmart…

The entire shopping trip took from start to finish 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Tonight we are having the Jack Daniels barbeque wings minus the Jack Daniels.  I’m making some oven fries to go along side.

Happy Fall-back Sunday everybody!

November Meal Plan


Spent the day off and on meal planning for the month of November.   Looking at what we’ve got going on this month, I am prepared for 18 meals. If anything ends up being left over, it will just move to the next month.

I create a shopping list based on the 18 meals that I have chosen. One shopping list is for all the meat and nonperishables for the month as well as the produce and dairy for the first week of the month. I plan on doing this tomorrow, so I’l try to remember and do a post about the shopping trip.   I go ahead and make a list of the produce for each week of the month, so I can just grab that on Saturdays, get the produce and go.  So just one big shopping trip.

As I’ve said before, I don’t plan leftover meals. Dan, Sarah and I always bring the leftovers from the night before to lunch the next day, so we don’t usually have many leftovers.

Each week I try to have a chicken, beef, pork, veggie, and soup recipe just so we don’t feel like we’re having the same thing over and over.

My recipes for this month are:

1) Jack Daniels honey barbeque wings with oven fries:

2) Grilled sweet potato and veggie skewers:

3) Wild rice and chicken casserole:  This is absolutely delicious! I’m making it this coming Wednesday, so I’ll post the recipe. I made it for my friend Rachel that just had surgery and she loved it.  Makes a great freezer recipe!

4) PW Sour Cream Noodle Bake:

5) Pork Chops and PW roasted acorn squash: For the pork chops, I’l just season them with salt, pepper, and maybe do some bread crumbs and bake them.

6) Crockpot pasta fagioli:

7) Grilled steak with roasted cauliflower: Nothing fancy when it comes to the steak…

8) Lemon paprika chicken thighs:

9) Pork fried rice: this is my mother-in-law’s recipe. I can post the night I cook it.

10) Spaghetti using spaghetti squash:

11) Crockpot chickpea, butternut squash and lentil stew:

12) Crockpot tomato and basil soup with grilled cheese sandwiches:

13) Tacos: you know… ground beef, taco seasoning, crunchy shells, sour cream, cheese….

14) Grilled chicken with roasted brussel sprouts: I will probably just marinate the chicken in olive oil, salt/pepper, and lemon juice prior to grilling.  The brussel sprouts are just basic roasted with bacon (because it’s delicious)

15) Crockpot zuppa toscano:

16) Balsamic skirt steak with polenta and tomatoes:

17) Crockpot butternut squash, quinoa, and chicken stew:

18) Crockpot roast: This is your basic potato, carrots, and onion with beef broth. I use a McCormick roast seasoning pack.

The Shopping List

SOOOO….based on all this, I made a huge shopping list.  I go through each recipe and write down what it needs.  I also add in our needs for household stuff, special events, etc.

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After I hit the grocery store tomorrow, I will let you know how it goes.  Wish me luck….I think I may try Walmart for some of the things…..yikes.

Leslie 🙂